Helping the aviation industry design cleaner aircraft engines

Understanding and predicting the process of pollutant formation by aircraft engines is a key aspect of mitigating aircraft emissions and helping the European Union achieve its 2050 climate neutrality goals.

Emissions such as soot, which are byproducts of the hydrocarbon combustion process, can have adverse effects on human health and contribute to climate change.

The aviation industry is a large consumer of fossil fuels and currently requires hundreds of billions of liters of fuel per year. Therefore, there is a need to develop more efficient aircraft engines, not only to reduce costs, but also to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the negative effects of emissions on the environment and human health. These aspects have motivated a great effort to improve and optimize current combustion technologies for ultra-low emission aircraft.

ESTiMatE (Emissions SooT Model), a research project coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and funded under the European Commission’s Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking, contributes to the aeronautical industry by better understanding the fundamental processes involved in the soot formation and developing models for virtual testing and design of aircraft engines. Academic partners are working closely with aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce to ensure that project results can directly benefit the aviation industry.

A visualization of soot dynamics within a combustion chamber

ESTiMatE has developed an integrated approach using advanced experiments and computer simulations to predict the formation and growth of soot particles. First, the project investigated how different factors such as temperature, pressure and fuel composition can affect soot formation for Jet A-1, a kerosene-like fuel used in civil aviation. Then, predictive models were developed from experimental and numerical data from high fidelity simulations. The objective was to evaluate the predictive capacities of the different methodologies. As the project draws to a close, ESTiMatE researchers are pleased to announce that they have successfully developed and validated these predictive soot formation models, which should now be ready to be tested under more realistic.

“The work done in ESTiMatE is important in the process of optimizing and designing aircraft engines,” said Dr. Daniel Mira, project coordinator and team leader of the Propulsion Technologies group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. “Traditional fuels such as Jet A-1 produce a large amount of soot when burned. We want to understand how these fuels behave under different pressure and temperature conditions in order to develop effective soot mitigation strategies. Of course, there is still a long way to go before the aviation industry can develop net-zero emission engines, but we are happy to contribute to this goal with fundamental knowledge and emission models. technologies that can support next-generation engine designs.

The ESTiMatE project, which runs from November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2022, is made up of seven European institutions: the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB), the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TUE), Technische Universität Darmstadt (TUDa), Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) and Universität Stuttgart (USTUTT), in collaboration with Rolls-Royce (RR). The project established close collaboration between industry and academia to develop advanced simulation technology that can be used to generate cleaner and more efficient propulsion systems.